Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Bathroom musings

When we were in Greece five years ago, we started rating establishments such as restaurants on the basis of how appealing were their bathrooms. Sometimes the nicest dining room with the most delectably prepared food would score the lowest marks in the restroom category while the highest marks, believe it or not, went to the facilities in the McDonalds in a suburb of Athens.

The biggest detractor for Greek plumbing is the fact that the sewage systems could not handle toilet paper. This entailed having a little covered can in every stall for the disposal of used toilet paper, not a pretty sight (or smell). Greek people are pretty used to the system, since the same situation applies at home as well.

But, unfortunately, tourists from more septically-advanced countries were not always cognizant of the rules, and would flush all sorts of forbidden items into the void. Hence, it was usually public toilets that scored lowest on our list: the ones at museums, national monuments and archaeological sites. The very worst was the ladies’ room at Epidavros: toilets running non-stop, full of paper towelling. Who throws paper towelling into a toilet? And of course this would be the time when you were desperate for a washroom. We did a lot of knee crossing during our Greek sojourn.

But back to the McDonalds for a moment, if you will. Not only was the washroom clean and in good working order, there was no little wastebasket in which to deposit spent toilet paper. They must have paid for it somehow, perhaps with daily plumbing procedures. But the illusion of American convenience and expertise was perpetuated there under those golden Athenian arches.


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